Career development seminars can be hit or miss. It is either you walk away with something great or you walk away with a bunch of papers that have little meaning and lots of Venn diagrams and charts.
But, in the midst of this Great (not great) Recession, the value of good advice seems to have risen. Everyone seems to be looking for that next perfectly timed piece of wisdom that will come and change their lives. And I don’t say this condescendingly. In fact, in that casual “everyone”, I’ll do what most writers don’t- I’ll even include me.
Maybe we all have fallen into this culture out of fear. It would certainly be justified. Everyday we hear reminders of what the economy isn’t doing, how people aren’t being hired and then conveniently timed reassurances from the top economists who didn’t see this whole thing coming. No double dip coming. Nothing to see here folks. Don’t panic. Just move it along.
What we really want to hear is that our inner potential is greater than all the factors against us. What we really want to hear is that our story will not be like the ones that run on the front pages and home pages. What we want to hear is that we will be the successful, the ones who survive this thing, the ones who aren’t damned to income stagnation for the rest of our lives. The ones who get to show our children that we did something meaningful with this part of our lives.
Somewhere along the red lines plummeting ever downward, I think we began to seek that affirmation. We started to need that message. We started to lean heavier on our faith than ever before. We started to need that whole self-help genre and we started to resent Oprah for leaving us right when we needed it most. We became word seekers- speak to my soul and give me peace. And we’re always seeking, like addicts trying to find the next fix.
In the midst of all the seeking, I had the word I needed spoken bluntly by an aunt I hadn’t seen in over a year. Halfway through my career lament, she gave me the “hush child” one eyebrow that has always stopped me midsentence ever since I was a child. And admittedly, I was ready to take in a word that would carry me through the week when she roughly said, “No one will ever care about your growth as much as you do.”
While it hit me with a jolt, my aunt’s dry words had more blessings than the profound one we often seek. See, I think the problem became that we stopped looking for reassurance and started looking for others to stretch us further than we would force ourselves. So instead of using our energies seeking the next perfect word, we may need to start pushing ourselves to the levels of growth we’re too afraid to touch, yet think we deserve.
Today, stop seeking out a place to unload your fears and instead address them one by one. All the words in the world but only you can challenge yourself to become fully, fearlessly you.